Day 2 started promptly at 6AM because Sister doesn’t like to waste ANY time.
However, on our journey to find the tram (which would then take us to the metro, which would then take us to Sultanahmet/the old city), we got lost, So, essentially we started the actual trek around 9AM – even though we had been up for a while.
Sister had no interest in breakfast but I had a HUGE interest in coffee. So, as a break from all the wandering and confusion, we stopped at Cafe Lavazza to order some “iced coffee.” But, as I mentioned before, this was often met with a follow-up question: “You mean Iced Americano? Or Iced Latte?”
I chose the iced latte and, though it was decent, it wasn’t what I was expecting. Oh well. You win some, you lose some. Luckily, our wins were a lot higher than our fails.
Except the ultimate fail came shortly after.
Istanbul Fail #1:
Since we got lost (and, might I add, looked like complete tourists with guidebook out, map out, and confused looks plastered on our faces), a “nice man” came to our rescue. Or so we thought. He pointed to our map and then pointed off in the distance and Sister and I were thinking, “YEA. We don’t even speak TURKISH. But he knows where we need to go and he’s going to help us.” We followed him down the busy street and, though our instincts told us to keep taking the busy street all the way down the hill, the man turned left onto another street. Sister and I exchanged glances and were both a bit hesitant but continued to follow him for a few more seconds. All of a sudden, we see him reaching into his pocket to pull out his phone and turn on the camera setting.
Um. No. Thank. You.
We flipped around, went back to the busy, populated street, and ran away from the “nice man.” Never again. [We ended up seeing him on the same street later that night. Probably searching for his next victim. Sister and I quickly walked in the opposite direction with our heads down so as not to make eye contact. Creeper.]
Anyway, we finally made our way over to the spice market. Walking through the market was quite entertaining because, in an attempt to gain our attention and make us buy THEIR spices, storeowners would stand outside their shops and try to engage in conversation. And, when that didn’t work, they would shout random things out like, “Hey INDIA,” “Dil to Pagal Hai” (<—an old Bollywood movie), and even, “We have poison for mother-in-law.” Pretty effective tactics. I was impressed.
Istanbul Fail #2:
Spending $8 on a handful of almonds + raisins at the spice market. And then tossing them in the trash shortly after because the raisins had nasty seeds in them.
After our short visit to the market, we walked to the Hagia Sofia/Ayasofya. There was a ridiculously long line to get in, but we bought a fancy museum pass that gave us access to the Ayasofya and a few other museums so we were able to bypass the line. I’ll give Sister’s Bible some credit for providing us with that helpful idea.
I found that, no matter how hard I tried
and how good I think my picture-taking skills are, I was never able to capture the greatness of the mosques and palaces. It seemed almost silly to pull out my camera each time. And every time someone would walk into a room behind me with their iPhones and iPads in front of their faces, clicking a few pictures and then continuing on to the next room, I wanted to grab them by the shoulders, shake them, and scream, “REMOVE your eyes from your screen.” Because, even though I’m grateful for the memories that my pictures provide me, they’re just that. Memories. In no way do they replace the experience of being there. No matter how fancy your Panoramic apps are.
After exploring the ins and outs of the Ayasofya, I was starving. I think it was around 1:30PM at that point and we hadn’t eaten anything all day. Upon exiting the Ayasofya, there were a ton of tiny shops/restaurants and I was happy to eat at any of them. But Sister wanted to consult her Bible for the best, most hip-hop-happening place to eat lunch.
Istanbul Fail #3:
Letting Sister consult her guidebook for lunch. After spending nearly 1.5 hours searching for a fish restaurant that only the “locals” ate at, we found it tucked away in the middle of a random neighborhood. Also, it was closed. Also, Sister lost all privileges for selecting restaurants.
At this point it was 3PM and I was HANGRY. We walked back toward the Ayasofya and searched for a restaurant that looked appealing (but really, everything looks appealing in a HANGRY state).
We settled on a restaurant across the street from the Ayasofya. And by “we,” I mean “I,” because Sissy didn’t get a say in the matter. I was actually pretty proud of my choice because the food was delicious AND fairly cheap.
The “bean salad” we ordered was too oily and not salty enough. But, that was quickly forgotten because they brought out their famous meatballs with this red, spicy sauce. Delicious.
With our tummies full and happy, we set out for our next museum of the day. The pass also included free access to the Museum of Archaeology. As terrible as Sister is at picking restaurants, she’s a pretty good museum partner. For starters, she knows all the answers to my questions. She’s a history buff and thrives off of random facts and timelines of events. But sometimes she’ll surprise you. She’ll stand at a tomb for a few minutes, studying an engraving in depth. And, to any outsider, she looks like she’s connecting the dots in her head. But, all of a sudden, she’ll say something ridiculous like, “Well I think that person just tripped over there, so that’s why the horse ran away. And then the horse trampled the owner. And everyone’s probably trying to kill the lion because the lion probably ate the queen.” I think Sister was a professional storyteller in her last life.
After the museum, Sister and I took a “Bosphorus Tour” boat ride. It was only 10 TL (Turkish Lira) for a 1.5 hour ride along the Bosphorus Strait. Well worth it.
It was really nice to be able to sit and take in all the sights since we had been on our feet all day.
With the sun going down, it felt like the perfect time to take the tour. Everything is just so gorgeous around sunset.
And what still boggles my mind is how we can make the jump from Europe to Asia in less than 2 minutes.
The Asia side of Turkey
The tour was so beautiful AND it provided us a nice little break before we had to walk back to the hotel. On our way back, we walked under the bridge (where they have restaurants and patios facing the water) and were tempted to stop and get a glass of wine while watching the sun go down.
Istanbul Fail #4:
The wine. Not good. And, you’ll see in future posts that I continue to order wine in hopes that it’ll miraculously taste fantastic. (Spoiler alert: It never does).
But the view was so great that it didn’t matter much that the wine tasted like rotten grapes.
When we got back to Istiklal, Sister got some gelato for dinner and I got a doner kebab.
I was on the hunt to find the best doner kebab in the city. This place did not win.
We had another early morning planned, so Day #2 came to an end shortly after dinner.
(Side note: When you walk 35,000 steps in a day, you sleep like a dead person).
Questions of the Day:
- Iced latte or iced americano?
- Favorite spice to use when cooking?
- Last time you were on a boat?